Audi’s smallest sedan is affordable and offers a pair of performance upgrades.
The market may have shifted to utility vehicles, but several premium manufacturers remain engaged with sedans. Certainly, Audi has its share of “Q” utility vehicles, but the company still produces a variety of sedans, coupes, and convertibles. The Audi A3 is the smallest and most reasonably priced of the eight car lines offered. This compact sedan delivers an attractive entry point to the luxury market, an affordable model with upgrade possibilities.
2022 Audi A3 Review
The Audi A3 is a compact sedan with room for five. It comes with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, the latter a $2,000 upgrade.
Pricing for the A3 starts at $34,900. Choose the mid-level performance S3, and the cost is $45,900. The limited available RS 3 tops the range with a price of $58,900. We will limit much of our discussion to the A3, the test model at hand while referencing the engines of the other two simply because we can (and should). Besides the standard Premium grade, the Audi A3 is available in a Premium Plus grade for $38,500. Add $1,095 for the destination charge.
Audi does not supply over-the-top exterior designs and we are fine with that. The look is conservative with sporty and elegant touches outside and in. Audi’s take on the gaping honeycomb grille is hexagonal with pronounced headlights and LED lighting accents. Large pockets on the front fascia’s bottom corners add a sporty touch.
Along the profile, the A3 might be mistaken for your run-of-the-mill sedan. But there are styling touches worth mentioning, including handsome five-spoke alloy wheels, chrome surround, and pleasing body sculpting. From the rear, the A3 features tear-drop LED tail lamps, a trunk lip spoiler, and dual exhaust ports.
All elements unite to form a handsome package. The uncomplicated design takes nothing away from the sedan. Moreover, an excess of glitz and glamour typically hides shortcomings inherent to some models. Audi’s presentation tells its story clearly and without complication.
If you can look past the small rear seating area and almost equally small trunk, the A3 is worth considering. In any case, the A3 reminds us of executive cars of yore – driven by a young professional with maybe a significant other to consider. If those two marry and start a family, the rear seats hold two or three car seats with ease. You will only need to consider something else if your cargo requirements or youngsters’ size make a difference.
As far as the interior design is concerned, the A3 delivers a minimalist look with a welcome combination of soft-touch materials and leather. The front seats are comfortable, lightly bolstered, and supportive.
The cabin has an upscale look and vibe. It is not overrun with controls – just the usual switches and knobs controlling cabin comfort and infotainment. The split dashboard is eye-pleasing, and the controls are firm and mesh well. You will find a smattering of hard plastics, typically in out-of-eyesight places.
Audi loads the A3 with a host of standard features, including power-controlled and heated front seats. Push-button start, three-zone climate control, and a panoramic sunroof are also included.
Move up to the Premium Plus grade and this one comes with an automatic dimming rear mirror. You will also find LED interior lighting and lovely birch wood inlays.
The trunk measures just 10.9 cubic feet. However, a 40/20/40 split fold-down seat extends the storage compartment accordingly.
We are happy with how Audi has transitioned its infotainment display into a more conventional unit. Do not misunderstand us – the previous arrangement with the sharp graphics, orange and white lettering, and black background was attractive. But it relied on a control knob and that is more work than touchscreen access.
These days, Audi drivers will find a 10.1-inch display screen, along with USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A 6-speaker audio system comes standard; a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio package with satellite radio is available. For audiophiles, the latter choice is preferred. Customers can also shop for a wireless charging pad. Moreover, a 12-inch digital display cluster is also available.
On the safety front, Audi imbues the A3 with such features as forward collision warning and forward emergency braking. Automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, lane-departure warnings, and a crash preparation system are included.
Among the upgrades are blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, and adaptive cruise control. Lane-keep assist, lane-centering assist, traffic sign recognition, and a head-up display are available. Parallel and perpendicular park assist technology make parking this small sedan a breeze.
Every Audi A3 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The same can be said for the S3.
But the power differences between the two are noteworthy as the standard engine delivers 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Choose the S3 and Audi ratchets the power quotient to 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Both versions work with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The RS 3 is the performance champion among the three. This one comes with a turbocharged five-cylinder engine. It pumps an extraordinary 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This model also comes with a 7-speed DCT.
One important distinction between the A3 and its two stablemates is that the latter comes with standard all-wheel drive. The RC 3, by the way, runs best on 93 octane fuel, otherwise, the performance numbers are nominally lower.
The Audi A3 can be had with either standard front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. But let us get this point out of the way immediately: an Audi with the available all-wheel drive system — known as quattro –is worth the $2,000 upgrade. Sure, you may be looking to save some money, but the performance difference is apparent in your choice of drivetrain.
Where its chief competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW utilize models with a rear-wheel drive bias and available all-wheel drive, Audi has set a different course for itself. Sure, the brand as part of the Volkswagen Group sought ways to manage costs as a reason for this. It did so by going with front-wheel drive as standard on some of its models with all-wheel drive available. Elsewhere, Audi chose standard all-wheel drive, even though the platform would yield front-wheel drive if they offered it.
The quattro all-wheel drive system arrived in the early 1980s with that vehicle appropriately named the Audi Quattro. This model garnered award after award for its driving acumen, benefiting from a superior all-wheel-drive system that its competitors could not match. Since then, quattro has evolved into a naming convention for the all-wheel drive system across all its model lines.
All About Quattro
With quattro, power is distributed to all four wheels, switching power to the wheel that needs it most. As equipped, these models come with front and rear differentials as well as a TORSEN center differential. Improvements in steering, handling, cornering, and braking are realized. With snow present, the system supplies yet another level of grip for whitened conditions.
The A3 gathers steam gradually, but steadily as it pulls away from a dead stop. There is ample low-end power available, enabling this model to reach 60 mph in just over 6 seconds. The transmission complies by shifting quickly and seamlessly. The steering comes without effort although feedback is only average.
Take this sedan on twisty roads and the quattro system demonstrates its competence. It manages curves well and enters and leaves corners with stability. The braking is firm and the overall experience is enjoyable. Look to the available S3 for enhanced performance and a sport-tuned suspension system. It represents the happy middle ground between the A3 and the far pricier RS 3.
Audi A3 Competitors
Several models go toe to toe with the Audi A3. One of the newest models is the Acura Integra. We would also recommend comparing the Lexus IS and the Cadillac AT4. From Germany, we have the BMW 2 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Further, the Volvo S60 is another model to consider.
Audi A3 Recommendation
Inasmuch as the A3 offers an incredibly affordable segue to the Audi marque, our eyes are on the S3 for its performance edge. If performance is not high on your list, then the Premium Plus has the right blend of amenities and upgrades to justify its price. And at just over $40,000, it remains a bargain in an increasingly pricey luxury market.
2022 Audi A3 Specifications
|Compact Luxury Sedan
|$34,900 to $58,900
|Engine No. 1
|2.0-liter turbo I4
|201 @ 4,500 rpm
|221 @ 4,100 rpm
|Engine No. 2
|2.0-liter, turbo I4
|306 @ 5,450 rpm
|295 @ 3,000 rpm
|Engine No. 3
|2.5-liter, Turbo I5
|401 @ 6,500
|369 @ 3,500 rpm
|Curb Weight (pounds)
|3,329 to 3,649
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)
|Hip room (f,r…inches)
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)
|regular or premium
|Fuel Tank (gallons)
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)
|29/38/32; 23/32/29; 20/29/23
Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Compiled by Tom Keegan.
See Also — Summer Breeze: 2022 Audi Q5
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